"The first aim of the prepared environment is, as far as it is possible, to render the growing child independent of the adult"
- M. Montessori, The Secret of Childhood
Why focus on independence? Children develop a sense of inner worth and initiative when they are allowed to explore and do things for themselves. By providing a prepared environment we are telling our children: "You are important in this family. You are a capable person."
Elements of a Prepared Environment:
- Freedom - Is the area safe and accessible?
- Order - Do things have a place?
- Beauty - Does my child's environment deserve respect?
- Nature and Reality - Are there "real" things my child can work with? (Child-size "adult" items)
- Social Environment - Does the environment encourage myself and others to interact with my child?
- Intellectual Growth - Are there opportunities for my child to learn and grow?
We are still working on making our house a prepared environment. Hopefully I'll be able to post some pictures soon. In the meantime here are some examples from others: